Would a GAPS Diet Help You?
Ironically, our “advanced” western medical establishment cannot always successfully treat some of the most pervasive issues affecting Americans today. Families go from doctor to doctor looking for answers for:
- Autism spectrum disorders (ASD)
- Bi-polar disorder
- Learning disabilities
- Autoimmune conditions
- Digestive distress
Many of these families find great relief and even complete healing when they regard their disease through the lens of gut and psychology syndrome, an issue first identified by British neurosurgeon Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.
The basis of gut and psychology syndrome or GAPS™ is that when the bacteria or “flora” in the digestive tract or “gut” becomes compromised, the resulting toxicity can interfere with proper brain function. Effective nutritional therapy can re-balance gut flora to create a healthier overall physiology.
What’s in the Gut? You May Be Surprised
The human body carries around 4 to 6 pounds of bacteria or “flora.” We have more organisms living within us than we have cells in our body. It is a specialized, organized eco system, developed over years of evolution in our environment. Our gut flora has enabled us to adapt to our environment and the foods available.
When in proper balance, our gut flora supports our immune system. It synthesizes vitamins, aids digestion and elimination and detoxifies the body. Our beneficial gut flora also keeps pathogenic microorganisms in check by cleaning the intestine and fueling colon cells.
A newborn’s gut is sterile. As the baby passes through the birth canal, he swallows his first mouthful of flora. Whatever resides in mom’s vaginal tract colonizes baby’s gut.
In her book Gut And Psychology Syndrome. Natural Treatment Of Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Depression And Schizophrenia, Dr. McBride explains that antibiotics, medications, bottle feeding, chlorinated water, stress, alcohol and pollutants can put the gut flora into an unhealthy state. She also points to unhealthy foods like refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods ferment in the gut. This fermentation supports pathogenic microorganisms but starves the healthy flora which in better conditions would combat those pathogenic organisms.
An imbalance in gut flora also impacts the enterocytes, the cells in the small intestine that carry out final digestion by absorbing nutrients, electrolytes and water. With unbalanced gut flora, the enterocytes weaken allowing nutrients and even food particles cross the gut lining and go into the blood stream in inappropriate sizes. Without nutrients broken into the form the body can use, the immune system is compromised and the body can even become malnourished.
When the pathogenic microorganisms running rampant in the gut move into the blood stream, toxicity and disease follow. A toxic brain can cause seizures, autistic behavior, migraine headaches, mental and mood disorders, learning disabilities and more.
The GAPS Diet
The goal of the GAPS protocol is to reestablish the optimal gut ecology, heal and seal the gut lining, and gently detoxify the body.
The diet removes all:
- Processed foods
- Foods that feed pathogenic microorganisms; and
- Foods that cannot be broken down by damaged enterocytes.
It replaces those with:
- Nutrient dense, whole foods diet that provides the building blocks necessary to rebuild and repair the entire body from the cell up
- Healing foods like bone broths, fermented vegetables and dairy products
- Fresh vegetables, proteins and animal fats
And supports those choices with the following supplements:
- Therapeutic probiotics
- EPA and DHA from fish oil
- Other supplements based on individual need and level of toxicity
GAPS Diet Creator Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride
In the 1990s British neurologist and neurosurgeon Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s son was diagnosed with autism. With no effective treatments available, she began to explore the condition herself.
The changes she was making in her son’s diet seemed to ease some of his behaviors. Eventually, she obtained a second doctorate in human nutrition at Sheffield University in England. She is now recognized as one of the world’s leading experts in using nutrition to treat autism spectrum conditions, mood disorders, learning disabilities and digestive and immune issues.
Why The GAPS Diet Is Worth a Shot: My Perspective
The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that “about 1 in 88 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD)”. “About 1 in 6 children in the U.S. had a developmental disability in 2006-2008, ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and autism”. The CDC also states that 4 out of 100 children have a food allergy, and children with food allergies are more prone to develop asthma and other allergic conditions. To this scenario, we add the hundreds of thousands of children suffering from delayed food sensitivities and intolerances.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of parents try treatment after treatment for these mystifying disorders with no results. I have personally seen amazing turn-arounds in the health and well-being of both children and adults after utilizing the GAPS™ diet. I had one client who, suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, spent three months detoxifying and then re-balancing and rebuilding her body with non-processed, real, whole foods. Her rheumatoid arthritis abated and she is now able to live a normal, healthy life, and even play tennis again! Another client put her autistic son on the GAPS diet. Within six months, his head-banging and other autistic behaviors had diminished to the point where he could make eye contact, play with toys without engaging in distractive behavior, he is now seeking the company of other children and he is being a social butterfly.
As a Certified GAPS Practitioner I have seen so many clients heal and regain their lives. I have seen children and families blessed with a second chance.
Getting Started on the GAPS Diet
There is enough information on the internet to make some strides in developing a diet of your own. If you or a loved one is suffering from ASD, bi-polar disorder, a learning disability, or an autoimmune condition, please get a copy of Gut And Psychology Syndrome and visit www.gaps.me (I am not affiliated with that site in any way.)
If, however, you want to make sure to get started correctly, figuring in your own medical issues and goals, I can help with a GAPS consultation. It takes time, planning and dedication to implement GAPS. The protocol is strict and it is labor intensive. But the results are short of amazing. If you’d prefer to just check me out for a while, sign up for my newsletter or “like”my Healthful Living Facebook page.